Explore our PhD in Education Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy specialization
In the Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy specialization, you will critically review the latest research to understand the complex family, cultural, societal, and developmental influences that affect child development and learning. Coursework covers topics such as child development, family partnerships, content knowledge, leadership, advocacy, social change, and professionalism. This program utilizes case studies and innovative technology, which provides you the opportunity to examine the quality of early childhood programs and policies, research and present strategies to promote positive outcomes for young children, and evaluate the leadership characteristics necessary to be an advocate in the field.
The individual dissertation process enables you to pursue original research in an effort to promote positive social change for young children, their families, and the early childhood field as a whole.
Minimum Degree Requirements
- 86 quarter credits
- Foundations courses (5 cr.)
- Specialized courses (30 cr.)
- Doctoral support courses (11 cr.)
- Research courses (20 cr.)
- Doctoral capstone (minimum 20 cr.)
- Doctoral Writing Assessment (0 cr.)
- Four PhD residencies to equal a minimum of 16 units
Walden students have up to 8 years to complete their doctoral program unless they petition for an extension.
In general, students are continuously registered in the dissertation/doctoral study course until they complete their capstone project and it is approved. This usually takes longer than the minimum required terms in the dissertation/doctoral study course shell.
To complete a doctoral dissertation, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the Chief Academic Officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation process in the Dissertation Guidebook.
This sequence represents the minimum time to completion. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 855-646-5286.
Leading the Future of Education
As an advanced graduate student, you are about to embark on one of the most exciting journeys of your life. This practical course provides meaningful skills you will need to select your path, complete your degree, and become a successful leader of educational change in the 21st century. Networking and research skills, scholarly writing, critical thinking, use of Walden resources, and the three advanced graduate paths (e.g., PhD, EdD, EdS)—this course addresses all of these in a manner that provides a solid foundation of skill sets upon which to base your journey. You will find a balance of assignments (e.g., case studies, discussions, application assignments) that will ignite your passion for learning, that will allow you to collaborate with others, and that will guide your current and future work. This course is designed to reflect Walden's social change mission and provide you with meaningful tools for success as an advanced graduate student.
Child Development in the Critical Early Years
Effective early childhood professionals know that respectful relationships with families provide the foundation for supporting young children's healthy development. Candidates examine key developmental stages, from prenatal experiences to the early school years. Education professionals explore child development theory, current research in neuroscience, and social-emotional development across the early childhood years, with a special emphasis on the significant role families play in fostering healthy development. Current thinking from the fields of psychology, science, and education are integrated with global perspectives on child development. Candidates apply their knowledge to promote positive developmental outcomes for young children and their families.
The Language/Literacy Continuum From Birth Through Age 8
How does language affect the young child's ability to think, communicate, and learn? In this course, educators explore the language and linguistic development of young children. Education professionals focus on theories of language acquisition, the nature and function of language, the relationship between language and cognition, the developmental stages of language and literacy, and the critical role of families, communities, and educators in fostering language and literacy development from birth through age 8. Education professionals examine current research and ways early childhood professionals can support language and literacy learning for all children across the early childhood spectrum.
Research Theory, Design, and Methods
In this research course, students are provided with core knowledge and skills for understanding, analyzing, and designing research at the graduate level. Students explore the philosophy of science, the role of theory, and research processes. Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods research designs and data collection methods are introduced. The alignment of research components is emphasized. Students also explore ethical and social change implications of designing and conducting research. Students demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing an annotated bibliography. (Prerequisite(s): RESI 8401.)
Meaningful Learning Experiences in Supportive Environments
What does excellence look like in early childhood settings? What are varying perspectives on excellence in early childhood education throughout the world? What are the common elements of learning experiences and environments that provide meaning, inspire curiosity, offer safety, and encourage children to thrive? By examining the research, candidates explore current issues and trends in early childhood education such as the inclusion of national standards, project-based learning, looping, technology, and the role of play in fostering healthy development and learning. Education professionals also explore the role of families in supporting children's learning at home and in early childhood settings as well as how to build effective partnerships with families.
Evaluating and Leading Effective Early Childhood Programs
What are the dispositions and responsibilities needed to be an effective professional in the early childhood field? Researchers indicate that high-quality early childhood programs result in long-term positive outcomes for children. Based on this understanding, education professionals use accreditation standards and knowledge of research-based effective practices to evaluate the effectiveness of early childhood programs. Education professionals explore multiple leadership roles in the early childhood field, analyze leadership qualities and traits, and reflect on professional growth. Specific focus is placed on effective practice related to management policies and procedures, teacher qualifications, family engagement, and community involvement.
Tools for Doctoral Research Success
Education professionals seeking the PhD in Education degree are required to make an original contribution to the field of education. The purpose of this course is to help educators begin that process by introducing them to the steps for developing the components of the dissertation—its timeline and available resources. Education professionals examine and analyze selected research to identify questions addressing a specific gap in the existing research literature, the framework and methodology, and other key components necessary to create scholarly research. They also explore resources such as the Writing Center and library, as well as specific tools they can use to complete the dissertation.
Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis
In this research course, students are provided with the opportunity to develop core knowledge and skills for designing and carrying out quantitative research at the doctoral level, including the application of statistical concepts and techniques. Students explore classical common statistical tests, the importance of the logic of inference, and social change implications of conducting quantitative research and producing knowledge. Students approach statistics from a problem-solving perspective with emphasis on selecting appropriate statistical tests for a research design. Students use statistical software to derive statistics from quantitative data and interpret and present results. (Prerequisite(s): RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110, and RESI 8401.)
Early Childhood Advocacy, Policy Development, and Positive Social Change
Early childhood leaders exemplify the values and ethics of the field, act as advocates for children and families, and lead initiatives to improve policy and affect positive social change. In this course, education professionals review the history of early childhood policy changes as well as the origin of policy reform. Education professionals study the effects of global advocates and review advocacy strategies. Through the use of research, education professionals explore opportunities to become advocates in the field. They are challenged to be innovative and transformative future thinkers who are deeply committed to the well-being of young children and families.
Demystifying Doctoral Writing for Research
Education professionals expand their knowledge of the dissertation process by reviewing tools, resources, and sample dissertations as they focus on the alignment among the identified problem, purpose, framework, research question(s), and study design. Education professionals use tools, including the appropriate rubrics and checklists, to narrow the focus of their research topic, plan a comprehensive literature review, and begin to develop their prospectus.
Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis
Students in this research course are provided with the opportunity to develop basic knowledge and skills for conducting qualitative research at the doctoral level. Students explore the nature of qualitative inquiry, how theory and theoretical and conceptual frameworks uniquely apply to qualitative research, data collection procedures and analysis strategy, and how the role of the researcher is expressed in the ethical and rigorous conduct of qualitative research. Students practice collecting, organizing, analyzing, and presenting data, and they develop a detailed research topic for conducting a qualitative study. (Prerequisite(s): RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110, and RESI 8401.)
Early Childhood Research Methodology
In this course, early childhood professionals examine research methodologies conducted frequently in early childhood. Particular attention is given to studies based on young children, especially those who cannot communicate. Education professionals read current research studies and dissertations to analyze methodology, paying particular attention to reliability and validity. They have the opportunity to apply the concepts studied in the course to the specific scenarios and their personal topics of interest. By the end of this course, education professionals will begin to delineate various early childhood research-based methodologies that may apply to an area of interest for their dissertations.
Writing a Quality Prospectus
Educators in nearly all doctoral-level programs are required to complete dissertation projects that necessitate requisite knowledge of conducting research, including the development of an appropriate research plan. In this course, education professionals utilize knowledge from previous courses to develop their prospectus—a brief document that provides preliminary information about their dissertation research to serve as a plan for developing the research proposal. They engage in a logical progression from topic conception to prospectus completion. They take their individualized topic and identify the research problem, purpose of their study, theoretical or conceptual framework, and appropriate research design, while also examining the concepts of feasibility and overall alignment of study components.
ADVANCED RESEARCH COURSE- choose 1
Advanced Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis
Students in this research course build upon knowledge and skills acquired in the prerequisite quantitative reasoning course and are presented with opportunities to apply them. They are provided with more specialized knowledge and skills for conducting quantitative research at the doctoral level, including understanding multivariate data analysis and applying more advanced statistical concepts, such as factorial ANOVA, mediation, moderation, logistic regression, ANCOVA, and MANOVA. Students explore existing datasets and apply suitable statistical tests to answer research questions with social change implications. In this course, they approach statistics from a problem-solving perspective with emphasis on selecting the appropriate statistical tests for more complex research questions and social problems. Students use statistical software to perform analyses and interpret and present results. They will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by carrying out a quantitative research project. (Prerequisite(s): RSCH 8110 and RESI 8402.)
Advanced Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis
Students build upon the knowledge and skills acquired in RSCH 8310 - Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis. and have experience applying them. Students develop a more sophisticated understanding of the theoretical antecedents and practical applications of eight contemporary qualitative approaches. Students gain experience developing qualitative interview guides, collecting data, and managing the process from transcription through analysis. The unique challenges of confidentiality and ethical issues are explored as well as implications for social change. Students will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by developing a qualitative research plan using a topic relevant to their capstone. (Prerequisite(s): RESI 8402.)
Advanced Mixed-Methods Reasoning and Analysis
Students build upon knowledge and skills acquired in RSCH 8210 - Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis and RSCH 8310 - Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis for more specialized knowledge and skills to design mixed-methods research at the doctoral level. Students are provided with more specialized knowledge and skills for designing mixed-methods research at the doctoral level. They gain an understanding of the types of mixed-methods designs and how to select the most appropriate approach for the research question(s). The emphases of this course are on integrating quantitative and qualitative elements into true mixed-methods studies, practice in data analysis, and integration of qualitative and quantitative data within a research write-up. Students will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by developing a mixed-methods research plan that incorporates qualitative and quantitative elements appropriately. (Prerequisite(s): RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110, and RSCH 8210 or RSCH 7210 or RSCH 6210, and RSCH 8310 or RSCH 7310 or RSCH 6310, and RESI 8402.)
DOCTORAL WRITING ASSESSMENT
Doctoral Writing Assessment
This course is part of Walden's commitment to help prepare students to meet the university's expectations for writing in courses at the doctoral level. In this course, students write a short academic essay that will be scored by a team of writing assessors. Based on the essay score, students will complete or be exempted from additional required writing support needed to meet writing proficiency standards. This required assessment course is free. Students will be enrolled automatically in it at the beginning of their doctoral program.
Completing the Dissertation
Education professionals in nearly all doctoral-level programs are required to complete dissertation projects that necessitate independent application of requisite knowledge by conducting research based on close interaction with, guidance from, and supervision by an institution-approved dissertation committee. Students in each PhD program specialization are supported in the completion of their doctoral dissertation in this course. The PhD dissertation process is composed of several stages and requires levels of approval: prospectus, proposal, Institutional Review Board (IRB), Form and Style, abstract by Chief Academic Officer (CAO), and the final study. Education professionals develop and support a doctoral-level research problem and review related literature to develop a framework for their study. They move from a research problem to the purpose of the study, the framework, and then an appropriate design while examining the concepts of feasibility and overall alignment of study components. Education professionals consider ethical feasibility issues as related to their dissertation development and proceed to data collection and analysis. They conduct an oral defense, appropriately presenting results and outcomes of the research, as well as implications for positive social change, a Walden hallmark.Students take this course for a minimum of four quarters and are continuously enrolled until completion of their dissertation with final chief academic officer (CAO) approval.To complete a dissertation, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the chief academic officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation process in the Dissertation Guidebook.
|(5 cr. per term for a minimum of 4 quarters until completion)|
|VIEW ALL COURSES Less Courses|
Note: Time to completion and cost are not estimates of individual experience and will vary based on individual factors applicable to the student. Factors may be programmatic or academic, such as tuition and fee increases; transfer credits accepted by Walden; program or specialization changes; unsuccessful course completion; credit load per term; part-time vs. full-time enrollment; writing, research, and editing skills; use of external data for the doctoral study/dissertation; and individual progress in the program. Other factors may include personal issues such as the student’s employment obligations, caregiving responsibilities, or health issues; leaves of absence; or other personal circumstances.
Tuition and Fees
|Tuition-Coursework||66 quarter credits||$675 per quarter hour for coursework credits||$44,500^|
|Tuition-Doctoral Study/Project||20–120† quarter credits||$675 per quarter hour for dissertation credits||$13,500–$81,000*|
|Technology Fee||$160 per quarter||$1,920–$4,800*|
|Residency Fee||Four Residencies||
$1,375 each (virtual)
$1,475 each (in-person: travel, lodging and other expenses are additional)
|(assuming completion in a 3-year timeframe)||(assuming completion in an 8-year timeframe)|
These are ranges of what a student can expect in terms of time and tuition cost to complete a degree. It does not include other fees, nor is it adjusted for tuition increases over time. Walden faculty has concluded that generally students who do not complete their program in eight years are unlikely to complete and only allow students to exceed that time frame when a student petitions for an extension and provides good reason for the delay and assurances that obstacles to completion can be overcome. Time is calculated using the time allowed for each semester or unit that the student completes. Students are encouraged to work continuously during the program so as not to extend the time needed to complete the degree as work can become stale and students lose focus. Students who earn two grades of “Unsatisfactory,” who repeatedly drop a course before a semester or unit has been completed, or are unable to complete in the eight year time frame, should expect that they may be dismissed from the program. Walden believes that it is in the best interest of a student who is unable to complete the degree in the stated ranges to strongly consider withdrawal or obtaining a lesser degree.
Time to completion and cost are not estimates of individual experience and will vary based on individual factors applicable to the student. Factors may be programmatic or academic such as tuition and fee increases and/or the student’s transfer credits accepted by Walden; program or specialization changes; unsuccessful course completion; credit load per term; writing, research and editing skills; use of external data for their doctoral study/dissertation; and/or individual progress in the program. Other factors may include personal issues such as the student’s employment obligations; care giving responsibilities or health issues; part-time vs. full-time enrollment; leaves of absence; and/or other personal circumstances.
Tuition and fees are subject to change. Books and materials are not included. Students may incur additional costs for remedial writing assistance, if necessary.
^This assumes students successfully complete their coursework on the first attempt.
† Based on a 3-year minimum completion requirement and an 8-year maximum timeframe as outlined in Walden academic policy.
*Tuition and fees will be higher if students petition to extend the 8-year maximum timeframe or choose to take more expensive elective courses.
+Tuition and time to complete may be reduced if transfer credits are accepted, or if you receive grants, scholarships or other tuition discounts. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 844-642-0198.
Many Walden degree-seeking students—67%—receive some form of financial aid.* Create a customized plan that makes sense for you.
*Source: Walden University’s Office of Financial Aid. Data reports as of 2018.Find Ways to Save
Program Admission Considerations: A master's degree or higher.
General Admission Requirements: Completed online application and transcripts. Please note that the materials you are required to submit may vary depending on the academic program to which you apply. More information for international applicants.
As a graduate of this program, you will be prepared to:
- Evaluate practices, programs, and policies in the areas of child development and learning.
- Engage in effective leadership practices to advocate for positive outcomes for young children and families.
- Evaluate responsible assessment practices to support healthy development and positive learning outcomes for young children.
- Demonstrate cultural responsiveness in interactions with children, families, community members, and early childhood professionals.
- Integrate professional resources to inform solutions to problems in early childhood.
- Synthesize a variety of perspectives to promote professional growth and positive social change in the early childhood field.
- Design research to address educational problems and contribute to the profession.
- Demonstrate the ability to conduct research that positively impacts social change.
Compare Walden’s Doctoral Education Programs
Walden offers both an EdD and PhD in Education with a specialization in Early Childhood to meet your career goals. View the chart to help you determine which program is right for you.
I am passionate about advancing the field of education by ensuring that every student receives high-quality teaching, particularly in higher education.
Martha Bless PhD in Education Graduate
When I go to our state Senate for hearings, having the ‘Dr.’ in front of my name will give me a deeper level of credibility.
Megan Hall PhD in Education Graduate
Perseverance was the key to completing my dissertation. It was important to read and write every day.
Vaughn Bradley PhD in Education Graduate
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